Attack Hot Spots, Crime Experts Advise Police

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Police focus on crime “hot spots” is more effective than the “standard model” of policing: “reliance on random patrol, rapid response to calls for service, follow-up investigations by detectives, and unfocused enforcement efforts,” says an exhaustive new study of policing in America. The report cites “widespread adoption of new computer mapping and crime analysis technologies by the police.” It says that “attacking chronic concentrations of crime… can suppress crime, deter its future reappearance, and avoid simply displacing a similar number of crimes elsewhere.”

“Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence,” was issued today by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The report was written by a committee headed by Wesley Skogan of Northwestern University.

The report concluded that “the more police focus on achieving localized and specific results, the more effective they will be in controlling crime and disorder.” That was the first of eight recommendations. Among the others:

–requiring an annual public report on the number of persons shot at, wounded, or killed by police officers in the line of duty. “Few communities are prepared to understand fully the causal context and mechanisms for minimizing the rate of lethal and nonlethal shootings by police,” the report said.

–conducting a regular national survey to gauge the extent and nature of police-citizen contacts.

–ordering more research on how innovations in policing can be fostered.

–gaining more knowledge about the effectiveness of problem-oriented policing and community policing. The committee said there is “not yet enough evidence to document their successes or failures.”

–placing more attention on how the demands of responding to terrorism is affecting local police departments.

–expanding efforts by the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice to “ensure the growth and stability of its policing research portfolio.” The committee noted that there many important policing subjects “about which there is virtually no scientific research….police research deserves more serious attention than it has received.”


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